Proving that this really is an ‘occasional series’, tonight I’m back with the second instalment of my Funny Friday series. The subject of this instalment is a Channel 4 series that ran for three series between 2000 and 2004. I’m talking about ‘Black Books’ – the comedy brainchild of Graham Linehan and Dylan Moran set in a book shop in London. Starring Moran himself as grumpy Bernard Black, Bill Bailey as the put-upon Manny, and Tamsin Greig as the boorish wine-guzzling female.
This is the show that probably inspired me to have a go at writing a sitcom script myself. The off-beat humour, the visual comedy and the interplay between the three main characters highly reminiscent of Linehan’s previous sitcom creation Father Ted all combined to give us a gem of a comedy that always seems to go unappreciated in those ‘Greatest Sitcom’ countdowns. Additionally, they used guest stars but not in such a way that distracted us from the plot of the episode. Does anyone remember Nick Frost as the security installation man with the Subbuteo player in his hair? Or Julian Rhind-Tutt as the roguish travel writer? But they were there.
My favourite episode is ‘Elephants And Hens’ where Fran goes off for a Hen party and challenges Bernard and Manny to come up with a better children’s story than the ones they were complaining about. Thus followed the 1,000 page epic, and the more suitable effort where the Elephant loses his balloon. Concerned about the potential pitfalls of having written such a masterpiece, they panic and burn it!
If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you get the complete series on DVD and treat yourself!